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Wed Apr 23 12:36:13 SAST 2014

Drogba makes amend for Moscow misery

Ryland James, Sapa-AFP | 20 May, 2012 12:080 Comments
Chelsea's Didier Drogba celebrates after the Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich, May 19, 2012. Chelsea stunned Bayern Munich to win the Champions League for the first time after a penalty shootout after a tension-soaked final had ended 1-1 after extra time on Saturday
Image by: Wolfgang Rattay / REUTERS

Chelsea’s Didier Drogba may be now out of contract, but he proved to be the match-winner as the Blues lifted their first Champions League title to make amends for his misery in Moscow.

Four years after being red-carded in the 2008 Champions League final defeat, the 34-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance against Bayern Munich and his final spot-kick on Saturday sealed Chelsea’s 4-3 penalty shoot-out win.

“Today is a great day for our club, for our fans, for the players,” he said.

“I’m just really happy, I don’t know if there is enough words to describe the way I feel now.

“I wanted to make Chelsea smile compared to the other time where we were all down and some were crying. So I’m happy we made them smile.” 

After Bayern took the lead in the second-half, it was Drogba who kept the Blues in the game as he rose highest to convert Juan Mata’s corner and equalise against Bayern two minutes from time as the game finished 1-1 after extra time.

Having also scored in the 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool a fortnight ago, Drogba then flirted with the villain’s role four minutes into extra time as his foul on Franck Ribery saw Bayern awarded a penalty.

With the entire stadium holding their collective breath, Bayern’s ex-Chelsea wing Arjen Robben could only weakly hit to Petr Cech’s right and his shot was quickly gathered by the grateful goalkeeper.

Drogba worked tirelessly throughout, often back-tracking to help out in defence and grew in stature as the game wore on before keeping his cool to nail the final penalty past Munich’s Manuel Neuer to give Chelsea the title.

Having joined the Blues from Marseille in 2004, the Ivory Coast forward has said he will sit down with Chelsea’s bosses to discuss a new deal once the season is over.

It was the towering striker who helped put the Blues in Saturday’s final with the first-leg winner at Stamford Bridge against Barcelona in the last four.

Against the odds, Drogba and the rest of Chelsea’s collection of aging stars reached the final with victories over Napoli, Benfica and Barcelona in the knockout rounds.

If the former African Player of the Year has played his last game for the Blues, the possibility of Drogba available as a free agent is likely to arouse interest across Europe, but he has denied reports linking him to Barcelona.

Having been sent off four years ago, Drogba made good on his pre-match promise to make amends for his Moscow misery by ending Chelsea’s long wait to be crowned kings of Europe.

Drogba’s dismissal in the rain-soaked Russian capital four years ago came late in extra-time when he slapped United defender Nemanja Vidic after a mass confrontation between players from both teams.

With Drogba unable to take a penalty in the shoot-out, the Ivory Coast striker had to watch from the sidelines as John Terry and Nicolas Anelka’s spot-kick misses gifted the trophy to United.

“In Moscow it was very difficult,” said Drogba.

“It was very painful for the players, for the club, for the fans, and today we managed to change it and again it was an amazing game, a crazy game.

“Conceding a goal 10 minutes before the end and equalising in the last minute and then extra-time. We gave everything.

“I don’t know if we have enough energy to party tonight.”

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